Since time immemorial, converting features into benefits has been ground zero for sales skills. But it’s no longer enough. Your customers have heard it all before and they’ve stopped listening.
Customers no longer want to talk to salespeople, they want to talk to problem solvers. This means extending your horizon beyond selling products and services. Competition has shifted from who has the best products to who can best improve the customer’s operations. The best salespeople focus on real business issues. They help their customers not only to solve problems but also to avoid future problems by anticipating changes in market conditions. They sell from the customer’s perspective rather than their own.
Here’s how to focus your approach
Think of a sale you’re working on now and ask yourself, ‘Am I attempting to sell my products and services or solve the customer’s problems?’
If you hesitate before replying, don’t worry, that’s normal. Most people haven’t thought about this before. And in case you’re wondering, the approach applies to all sales, not merely the larger ones.
Here’s a simple illustration of the principle. A Canadian attempted to sell a Jeep that had a snow plough attachment. He ran several classified ads that mentioned new tyres, low mileage, good engine and so forth. No sale.
Then he thought about selling solutions and ran the following ad in the Business Opportunities section: Start your own snow removal business. Late model Jeep with plough. Excellent money-making potential. The Jeep sold the first day.
What will it solve?
Let’s look at how you apply this concept to everyday sales situations. A tried-and-tested method of improving your approach is to get into a ‘What will it solve?’ mindset. Before a sale, make a list of all the problems or potential problems you believe you can solve for your customer. You can do this alone or as a team exercise with colleagues at work. Keep this list at the forefront of your mind as the sale begins and you will automatically ask better questions.
If you’re a sales manager, whether your sales are booming or your team are having difficulty meeting their targets, keep saying over and over: ‘Help our customers to solve their problems.’ Be like a record stuck in a groove and you’ll be rewarded with better sales.
Learn more about LDL sales improvement courses.